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POB at the Kennedy Center, July 2012

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Left New York after the Osipova/Kobborg/Vasiliev Le Corsaire - took the train to 105 degree! DC - loved Giselle - not a Giselle fan, but the POB to me has the finest corps in the world - absolutely ethereal. Isabelle Ciarovola moves across the stage in such a way, you're not sure she's earthbound. I've never found anyone in POB to set the house on fire, but maintain that their corps totally carries them as world class. Loved it - had to return to Florida to get away from heat!

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I agree, Kirsten. The POB corps is great. My problem with this version by Patrice Bart -- which is also in the rep of La Scala, by the way -- is the placement and not-so-subtle changes in the Willis' choreography. Anybody who is intimately familiar with the purest version around -- the Kirov-Mariinsky's edition, which has barely changed since Petipa's last redaction -- will be irked by what they see with the POB's Willis, e.g., the big running circle around Hilarion occurs early, to the wrong music; those closed-in 'White Humbee' boxes bourreing out at sunrise instead of each Willi being at arm's length from her neighbors; the choppiness of the port de bras in the 'back-and-forth'segment on the knees, with hands 'scooping dirt' and tossing it back instead of the lovely Mariinsky arms and hands 'en couronne'! Too many oddities to list. It hurt my musical and choreographic sensitivity.

The dark lighting was another irksome feature. Then errors by the leading ballerina, watering down her steps (Dupont did only 2 low sobresauts in her first solo moment in the pdd)...then the front row of Willis wobbling during their cross-over in temps leve, with legs held up barely 35-degrees (not even the standard 45-degree).

How well-informed ballet fans cannot see this is incredulous to me. Especially folks who have seen the Mariinsky version of Act II time after time.

By the way, I heard nothing but negatives about this version from Russian emigrees who sat around us in 2nd Tier of the Kennedy Center Opera House...and who shared the elevator ride down after the show. 'Babushkas' who know their ballet stuff, whispering to each other: Eta plokho..."That was bad." I got the same comments the next day from folks who attend the Russian Orthodox Church in DC...people who know ballet because they grew up in Russia. This was the talk of the post-liturgy breakfast last Sunday among us ladies.

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Well, a lot of this depends on what version of the ballet a viewer is most familiar with, I think. I did not grow up watching POB's Giselle, but it is the version I have seen most often. I saw 3 performances by the Mariinsky in DC last year, and I prefer POB's.

A lot of the things which bother you about the choreography I don't mind at all. In fact I like how the Wilis zip up in 1 smooth movement and bourrée off at the end. And you're never going to get, IMO, lovely Mariinsky arms from POB. Even if the choreography were the same, the style is different and French arms are not as soft and fluid.

I do agree that the lightning is a bit dark particularly in Act I (unfortunately these seems to be a widespread probably at POB now, for many different ballets), but I love the dark lightning in Act II. I find the starkness of the wilis against the black floor to be haunting. To me the Mariinksy's blue stage made it look like Act II was set at the bottom of the ocean.

As for errors, well, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Hopefully they don't make too many of them too often. I did not notice Dupont omitting steps on Thursday night (although I did notice Ciaravola did on Saturday). Overall I thought the corps looked very crisp.

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Cinnamonswirl, how was Ciaravola's performance overall on Saturday? She's the one Giselle I missed.

I found the lighting for Act II just bright enough for me sitting in the middle of the orchestra. But I could definitely see how it might be a problem farther away from the stage.

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Overall I thought it was an excellent performance. She did make modifications (omitted some steps, changed the direction of the hops in the Act I variations), and she's never been considered a technician. But she is a real actress. She's like Fonteyn or Ferri in that she has a young spirit on stage. You don't know how old she is unless you zoom in on her face with binoculars.

Unfortunately Myrtha was Emilie Cozette. Often I think people are too hard on Cozette, but she really is not on the level, technically or artistically, of the other étoiles (or even many lower-ranked dancers). Pairing her with Ciaravola - who transcends technique - just serves to highlight that.

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